To dig deeper into this whole subject, you
can order Zerhusen's three lecture series, "A New Look At Tongues" (available
on cassette in the Alliance on-line resource catalog here on this website). In
these three tapes, Zerhusen presents his thesis of the meaning of tongues in the
Book of Acts, as well as in 1 Corinthians. The final lecture is a presentation
of the history and practice of tongues throughout church history. The essay
presented here was first published in Biblical Theology Bulletin (1996) and is
used by the permission of the author.
This article seeks to demonstrate that a socio-linguistic approach to the
understanding of the "other tongues" of Acts 2 is more helpful than
previously suggested approaches. The arricle proceeds in two patrs: after
problems with existing interpretations are pointed out, an alternative is
presented, which focuses on the function of the Hebrew language in first-century
The Language Miracle Interpretation
The interpretation of Acts 2 most widely held throughout Christian history is
the language miracle interpretation. According to this scenario, when the
disciples used "other tongues" they were supernaturally speaking
languages they had never learned. Proponents of this view assume (1) that the
crowd of Acts 2 spoke many different native languages and (2) that the disciples
were unable to speak these native languages (thus requiring a language miracle).
The narrative ofActs 2:1-13 makes no reference to any
specific languages. The Acts 2:9-11 listing is of people-groups and geographical
areas, not individual languages. In spite of this absence of reference to any
particular language, some have conjectured that a dozen or more languages were
spoken by the disciples. Stanley H. Horton claimed: "Some suppose that only
the 12 apostles were filled [with the Spirit] (32). However, more than 12
languages were spoken." Carl F H. Henry similarly wrote: "The sixteen
or seventeen, perhaps more, Pentecost tongues were not ecstatic utterances but
recognizable human languages" (377).
Neither Horton nor Henry arrived at these numbers by
exegesis of the text. Nor did they derive these numbers from historical
investigation (neither writer provided any historical evidence for these claims,
and neither writer specified what languages were spoken). Apparently, both
writers assumed that each item on the list represented a separate language. They
then totaled up the people-groups and areas listed in Acts 2:9-11 (there are
15), concluding that there were 15 or more languages.
A careful examination of the list shows that 15
languages are not represented. "Visitors from Rome, both Judeans and
proselytes (2:11) does not refer to people who spoke "Roman" (Judeans
and proselytes from Rome most likely spoke Greek as their native tongue,
possibly Latin). The term proselytes in Acts 2:11 probably refers to the Roman
contingent rather than the entire 2:9-11 list for the following reasons: (1) the
Acts 2:9-11 list is not yet complete when the phrase occurs--the reference
occurs within the list, not at the end; (2) since in the first century a great
amount of Judean proselytizing was taking place in Rome, it makes sense for Luke
to note this; (3) Luke's narrative was moving towards Rome, and so it is
appropriate for him to emphasize the city of Rome; (4) as can be seen from an
examination of Romans, the church at Rome was very mixed (Judeans and Gentiles
are directly addressed).
Judeans who had come from "the parts of Libya
belonging to Cyrene" did not speak "Libyan" or "Cyrenian"
(Crene was a Greek colony where the Judeans' native tongue was Greek). Judeans
who were "residents of Mesopotamia" spoke, not "Mesopotamian,"
but Aramaic as their native tongue. Because both Horton and Henry believe that
the Acts 2 narrative describes a language miracle, they assume that the Diaspora
Judeans spoke dozens of native languages, which the disciples did not know.
For intelligible communication to take place between
the speakers and hearers in Acts 2, were dozens of languages necessary?. The
apostle Peter spoke in one language (Acts 2:14ff), and all of the crowd
apparently understood him without difficulty. Frank W Beare notes that "[t]aken
literally, there was no need for so many languages; and Jews born abroad would
not normally be taught the language of Elamites (if it still was spoken anywhere)
or of Persians or Libyans and so forth. They would speak a dialect of Aramaic,
or the common Greek, or perhaps both" (237). Ernst Haenchen quotes W L.
Knox: "In reality it is most unlikely that any Jew of the Dispersion would
have understood such native dialects as survived in the remoter regions of the
Middle East, since the Jews of the dispersion were almost entirely city dwellers"
(169). He then adds: "The Jews in the regions enumerated [the Acts 2:9-11
list] did in fact speak either Aramaic or Greek."
Some would suggest that Luke's purpose in providing the
Acts 2:9-11 list is to emphasize linguistic diversity. This would be true if the
Acts 2 narrative described a language miracle and if in fact the Judeans in the
regions enumerated spoke multiple native languages besides Aramaic and Greek.
But if Haenchen is correct and the Judeans of the first century spoke Aramaic
and Greek as their native tongues, then there would be no linguistic diversity
to emphasize. All of the areas listed were areas in which there was a
concentration of Judeans. Although some areas are missing (e.g., Syria and
Cyprus), perhaps the list is meant to be representative of "all
Israel." If this is true, then Luke's purpose in presenting the list is not
to emphasize linguistic diversity, but to suggest that the first apostolic
testimony was to the Jewish nation.
Robert H. Gundry, a language miracle advocate, admits
that Aramaic and Greek would have been sufficient for communication to have
taken place between the disciples and their hearers:
Neither at Corinth nor on the Day of Pentecost is
speaking in tongues presented as the overcoming of a communications barrier.
Everyone spoke at least Greek at Corinth. At Pentecost the disciples and the
Diaspora Jews and proselytes could have communicated in Greek, Aramaic, or
Hebrew, all three of which we now know were regularly used in frst century
Palestine. The New Testament presents glossalalia primarily as a convincing
miracle, only secondarily as the communication of a message; for communication
alone could be accomplished more easily without "other tongues"
Proponents of the language miracle view interpret the
phrase "other tongues" to mean "other than what they normally
spoke." Most would acknowledge that the disciples' ordinary languages were
Greek and Aramaic. John B. PoIhill is representative when he writes: "The
miracle was a demonstration of the Spirit's power and presence: these Diaspora
Jews heard their own tongue spoken (not Aramaic or Greek) and realized that this
should have been impossible for 'Galileans'" (101). According to the logic
of the language miracle view the "other tongues" were languages other
than Aramaic and Greek, the ordinary languages of the disciples. For the
language miracle view the contrast is:
Normal languages of speakers
Languages other than
the normal languages of the speakers
(i.e., languages other than Aramaic/Greek)
But where are these native languages--other than
Aramaic and Greek--to be found among first century Judeans? Simon J. Kistemaker
We presume that the God-fearing Jews were at least
bilingual, if not trilingual. Living in Jerusalem, they conversed in Aramaic.
And if they had come from the Roman Empire west and north of Israel, they would
know Greek. But they also learned the languages of their native countries....When
the alien residents of Jerusalem hear the languages they learned in the country
where they were born and reared, they are utterly amazed [80-81].
I. H. Marshall echoes Kistemaker: "Although the
audience was Jewish, the various groups of the Diaspora would still have had
their own languages and the declaration of the gospel would have come to them
more significantly in their own tongues" (361).
Both Kistemaker and Marshall (advocates of the language
miracle view) are well aware that Greek and Aramaic were in widespread use among
the Judeans in the first century. The logic of their theory, however dictates
that the "other tongues" could not have been Aramaic or Greek. If a
language miracle occurred, then by definition the speakers were speaking
languages they had never learned, languages other than their ordinary languages.
If the ordinary languages of the speakers (i.e., the disciples of Jesus in Acts
2) were Aramaic and Greek, and if the speakers were uttering languages they had
never learned before (i.e., a linguistic miracle was occurring), then the
speakers could not have been speaking in their ordinary languages (i.e., Aramaic
Therefore, languages other than Aramaic and Greek must
be found to serve as the "other tongues." They posit "local
languages," indigenous languages other than Aramaic or Greek, languages the
Diaspora may have spoken, yet languages unfamiliar to the disciples:
Normal languages of speakers
"Local languages of the Diaspora: languages the
disciples did not know"
While it is true that local languages other than
Aramaic and Greek existed in the first century, the text of Acts 2 presents the
"other tongues" as the native languages of the Judean crowd assembled
in Acts 2. Advocates of the language miracle view must prove that the
"Diaspora Judeans spoke these Iocal languages as their native languages
rather than Aramaic and Greek."
The Composition of the Crowd
The crowd of Acts 2 may be divided into two groups: Palestinian
Judeans. resident in the land of Israel; and Diaspora Judeans. who resided in
areas outside of Israel. Proponents of the Language miracle view regularly
assume, basing their conclusion on the Acts 2:9-11 list (14 of 15 items on the
list refer to Diaspora areas) that the majority of the Judeans present in Acts 2
were Diaspora Judeans.
Regarding these two groups, Joachim Jeremias recognized
that most of the Judeans present in Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost would
have been Palestinian. "The greatest number of visitors to Jerusalem have
always come from within Palestine" (71). S. Safrai arrives at the same
conclusion: "On each of the three festivals many tens of thousands went up
from the land of Israel and the Diaspora. Most, of course. came from the Land of
Israel, on whose inhabitants the precept was regarded as chiefly binding. Of
these, moreover, the majority came from nearby Judea and Idumea" 1975:
(326-27). In another place Safrai wrote: "of course the greatest number of
pilgrims were from Palestine. Of these the largest number came from nearby Judea
and Edom. The sundry testimonies and traditions which tell of whole cities going,
refer primarily to Judea" (1976: 900).
Scholars (especially language miracle advocates) have
sometimes been troubled by the presence of Judea in the Acts 2:9-11 list. If
Jeremias and Safrai are correct, however, Judea represents not only a legitimate
part of the crowd, but the largest portion of the crowd. Common sense should
confirm this fact. If an international convention of theologians was held in the
city of Los Angeles, even today most of the participants would come from nearby
areas. More participants would come from California than from the Orient, Europe,
South America, etc. People who live closest to the meeting place have the
easiest access to the event. In the fitst century, when the Judeans gathered in
Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost, most of those present would have been
If this observation, regularly overlooked in the
discussion of Acts 2, is valid, then both the speakers of the "other
tongues" and most of their hearers would have been Palestinian Judeans. The
narrative of Acts 2 contains clear references to the presence of Palestinians in
the crowd: "People ofJudea" (2:14); "People of Israel, listen to
these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested TO YOU by God with miracles and
wonders and signs which God pefformed through Him IN YOUR MIDST, JUST AS YOU
YOURSELVES KNOW" (2:22). Presumably, if they saw these things they must
have been Palestinian.
The text suggests that the speakers of the "other
tongues" were speaking the native languages of the crowd (which primarily
consisted of Palestinians). This means that the "other tongues" must
have included Aramaic and Greek (the native languages of "Judea"/Palestine).
Native Languages of the Diaspora
Surprisingly, when we examine Diaspora Judean groups we find that
most (if not all) of the Diaspora spoke either Aramaic or Greek as their native
language. It is common among scholars to differentiate between the western and
eastern Diaspora by their native languages. Elias J. Bickerman wrote:
Nevertheless the fact that the Law of Moses was
universally valid from Cyrene to Ecbatana did not prevent a linguistic and
cultural split between the two halves of ancient Jewry: the Jews in the Greek
and graecised lands in Africa and Asia Minor and the Jews in the Aramaic world,
which reached from Jerusalem to Babylon and Ecbatana .
Shaye J. D. Cohen notes the same linguistic split:
We have no reason to assume that any of the Egyptian
interpretations of Judaism would necessarily have found favor in the other
communities of Greek-speaking Jews throughout the Roman world (for example in
Rome, Asia Minor, North Africa, and parts of the land of Israel)....We have no
reason to assume that any of the Palestinian interpretations of Judaism would
necessarily have found favor in the other communities of Hebrew or
Aramaic-speaking Jews throughout the east (for example, in Babylonia and parts
of Syria) [24-25].
These statements are representative of a scholarly
consensus, which recognizes that the western and eastern Diaspora may be
classified linguistically according to native language (i.e., the western
Diaspora were Greek-speaking, the eastern Diaspora were Aramaic-speaking).
The western Diaspora resided in areas that had been
thoroughly hellenized for centuries; hence their native language was Greek. J.
N. Sevenster, after extensive work on the inscriptional evidence of
first-century Judaism, describes the dominance of Greek among the western
For it is an established fact that, as a rule, the Jews
outside Palestine spoke and wrote Greek and almost always thought in that
language, particulary in the centuries around the beginning of the Christian
era....The testimonials of the use of Greek among the Jews of the Diaspora are
so clear and so numerous that one can only assume that by far the majority of
the Diaspora Jews who went on pilgrimage to Jerusalem or settled in the Jewish
land spoke Greek .
If Sevenster's conclusion is valid, then the language
these Hellenistic Judeans would have heard in Acts 2 is Greek.
Because of the dominance of Greek among the western
Diaspora, there was a need for a Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures. The
Septuagint, which became the standard text used in the synagogues of the western
Diaspora, is evidence that Greek was the native language of these Judeans.
Knowing this, many scholars have argued that the "Hellenists"
of Acts 6 were Judeans from the western Diaspora who spoke Greek as their native
tongue. Kistemaker, writing about the "Hellenists" and "Hebrews"
of Acts 6, says:
From the Pentecost account we learn that devout Jews
had come from the dispersion to settle in Jerusalem (2:5-11)....Because they had
formerly resided elsewhere, their native tongue was Greek, not Aramaic or Hebrew
(which was spoken by the Jews in Jerusajem)....However, each group had its own
synagogue before these people became Christians, and when they became disciples
the Greek-speaking and the Aramaic-speaking believers continued to have their
own assemblies .
Clearly, Kistemaker is asserting that the native tongue
of Hellenistic Judeans was Greek. Where did Hellenistic Judeans come from? The
likely answer is areas west of Palestine--the same areas as Luke mentions in
Acts 2: "Cappadocia, Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the
parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and
proselytes, Cretans" (Acts 2:9-11).
Kistemaker is inconsistent. When discussing the "Hellenists"
of Acts 6 (who had come from the western Diaspora), he unequivocally declares
their native tongue to be Greek. When discussing the Hellenistic Judeans in Acts
2, however he says that, while they knew Greek, their native language was some
"local language" other than Greek.
John MacArthur also misses the contradiction within the
language miracle view. He proposes the language miracle view in Acts 2 and then,
when discussing the "Hellenists" of Acts 6, states:
The Hellenistic Jews were those of the Diaspora. Unlike
the native or Palestinian Hebrews, their native language was Greek, not Aramaic
or Hebrew. They used the Septuagint instead of the Hebrew Scriptures....Many of
the Hellenists had been in Jerusalem for Passover and Pentecost. After their
conversion. they decided to remain there under the apostles' teaching .
Proponents of the language miracle view, when
discussing the Acts 2 narrative, ignore or minimize the well established fact
that the native language of Hellenists/western Diaspora Judeans was Greek. This
cannot be ignored when a scholar such as Martin Hengel writes: "The
pilgrims who came to the feasts in Jerusalem from the West [Hellenistic Judeans]
brought their Greek mother tongue to Jerusalem" (115).
The situation of Diaspora Judeans in Egypt may serve as
a useful illustration of what was typical of the western Diaspora. It is a well
established fact that the Judeans in Egypt spoke Greek as their native tongue.
Some of the Egyptians spoke Demotic Egyptian as their native tongue. Discussing
the use of Demotic by the Egyptian Judeans, Hengel states, "True, we have
few references to Jewish illiterates, but even these will have understood and
spoken Greek. By contrast, Jews will hardly have been interested in Demotic
Egyptian. We have no clear evidence that they ever learnt it" (1980: 115).
The point is, even though Judeans residing in Egypt may have learned the "local
language," Demotic Egyptian, in addition to Greek, the available evidence
suggests that their native language was Greek. If a Judean from Egypt came to
Jerusalem for Pentecost and heard his native tongue, he would have heard Greek
spoken by a disciple. The text of Acts 2 requires that the Hellenistic Judeans
were not merely hearing a "local language" from a country where they
resided, but hearing their own native tongue (i.e., Greek for Hellenistic
Although Greek was used in Palestine and had penetrated
parts of the eastern Diaspora, the Aramaic language continued to dominate in the
east. Jacob Neusner says of the use of Aramaic and Greek among the eastern
Diaspora: "Most Jews...did not speak Greek but Aramaic (this is inferred
from Josephus' writings, and from later literature), and in later periods
produced literature in Hebrew and Aramaic" (10). F.F. Bruce, discussing the
language situation of the eastern Diaspora listed in Acts 2:9-11, wrote: "Parthia,
Media, Elam (Elymias) and Mesopotamia lay east of the Euphrates, the Jews in
those areas spoke Aramaic. These were the lands of the earliest dispersion, to
which exiles from the ten northern tribes of Israel had been deported by the
Assyrians in the eighth and seventh centuries B.C." (55).
We may recall here (see 2 Kgs 18:19-28) that prior to
the Assyrian and Babylonian conquests and exile of the Judeans, ordinary Judeans
spoke Hebrew as their native tongue and were unfamiliar with Aramaic. This
linguistic situation was completely reversed by the time the Judeans returned
from their exile. When they returned to Palestine, Hebrew was no longer their
native tongue, having been replaced by Aramaic. The most reasonable explanation
for this linguistic shift is that the native language for the eastern Diaspora
had become Aramaic.
While space does not permit full documentation here, we
may conclude that as in Palestine, the "native languages" of the
Diaspora Judeans were Aramaic and Greek. We have already seen that Aramaic and
Greek would have been the native languages for most of the Acts 2 crowd (i.e.,
the Palestinian Judeans). When we combine this fact with the fact that the
Diaspora also spoke Aramaic or Greek as their native tongues, we are forced to
conclude that most (if not all) of the Judeans present in Acts 2, whether
Palestinian or Diaspora, spoke Aramaic or Greek as their native tongue. In other
words, the "other tongues" must have included Aramaic and Greek.
This creates an insurmountable problem for the language
miracle view. The logic of the language miracle view must maintain that the
"other tongues" were languages other than the normal languages of the
speakers. Hence the "other tongues" had to be languages other than
Aramaic and Greek. In reality, the native languages of the crowd (whether
Palestinian or Diaspora) were Aramaic and Greek. Consider the contrast between
what the logic of the language miracle view dictates and the language situation
of first century Judaism:
Language Miracle View
First-century language situation of Judeans
"other tongues" could not have included Aramaic/Greek
"other tongues" had to include Aramaic/Greek
The Ecstatic Utterance Interpretation
In this view, the original event did not involve human languages.
Instead, the disciples in a state of religious excitement engaged in "ecstatic
utterances." According to William Furneaux, Acts 2 involves two different
We are driven to the conclusion at Pentecost, one
earlier and historical, the other later and containing unhistorical elements....The
earlier tradition is contained in verses 1-4, 12, 13, and the phenomena is then
identified with that described by St. Paul. The later tradition is contained in
verses 5-11, which state that foreign languages were spoken [28-29].
Most scholars who hold this view believe that the
tongues at Corinth were also "ecstatic utterances." Leaving aside the
question of the nature of "tongues" at Corinth, Furneaux claims the
original (and historical) event involved "ecstatic utterances." Luke
later redacted the event into a language miracle. Lisdemann also sees this
redaction by Luke:
If we regard "other" (hererais) as
redactional, then a language miracle would be speaking in tongues, i.e.,
glossalalia, which we know from 1Cor. 14. In that case the tradition contained
in vv. 1-4 (and v. 13?) reports an ecstatic experience in a house of a group of
disciples, and it was Luke who would first have interpreted this tradition as a
language miracle in order to prepare for the idea of world mission...distinction
needs to be made between glossalalia (1-4) and language miracle (5-13) in the
framework of the analysis of the tradition .
These scholars contend that a language miracle never
occurred because the original event did not involve the speaking of languages.
If we assume that the tongues of Acts 2 and 1Corinthians 12-14 are of an
identical nature (i.e., ecstatic utterances) and that Luke redacted the Acts 2
narrative, then the conclusion that the "tongues" were ecstatic
utterances is plausible. It should be noted, however, that the text of Acts (as
it stands) must be ignored or circumvented in order for someone to subscribe to
the ecstatic utterances position. The difficulty with the ecstatic utterance
view is that the text of Acts 2 clearly presents the "other tongues"
as the native languages of the crowd.
A Hearing Miracle
Other scholars, desiring to retain the language miracle idea, have
suggested variations that shift the focus to a hearing miracle. Perhaps the
disciples were engaging in ecstatic utterances, which the Holy Spirit converted
into the native languages of the Acts 2 crowd. The problem inherent in this
proposal, a problem also present in the traditional language miracle view, is
the assumption that the speakers (the disciples) could not speak the native
languages of the crowd without divine enablement. As we have already seen, this
assumption is without historical support. The speakers and hearers shared the
same native languages (Aramaic and Greek).
Still other scholars suggest that the speakers were
speaking their own languages, Aramaic and Greek, which the Holy Spirit
transformed into the native languages of the hearers. Again, this suggestion
ignores the fact that the speakers and hearers spoke the same languages. Put
another way, if the speakers were speaking in Aramaic and Greek, they would have
been speaking in the native languages of the crowd.
With all these suggestions we are left at an impasse. If the text is
taken seriously (i.e., the native languages of the hearers were spoken by the
disciples), all versions of the ecstatic utterances position should be rejected.
If the language situation of first-century Judeans is taken seriously (i.e., the
Judeans present in Acts 2 spoke Aramaic or Greek as their native languages),
then the language miracle idea should be rejected. I propose that both the text
and the language situation be taken seriously and an additional element be added.
This additional factor, though regularly overlooked by most scholars, yields a
better explanation for the "other tongues" of Acts 2.
We already have the parameters of this alternative if
we take the text and language situation of first-century Judeans seriously. From
the text we know that the "other tongues" were human languages. We
also know that these languages were the native languages of the Jewish crowd
that had gathered for the feast of Pentecost. Historical investigation leads us
to conclude that the native languages of first-century Judeans (whether
Palestinian or Diaspora) would have been Aramaic or Greek. This means that the
disciples, when speaking in "other tongues," must have been speaking
in Aramaic and Greek.
Two critical questions result from this reasoning.
First, why would Luke describe the Aramaic and Greek languages (languages
familiar to the disciples/speakers) as "other tongues"? Other than
what language? Second, why would the crowd react with amazement (2:6-12) and
ridicule (2:13) when they heard the speakers proclaiming in Aramaic and Greek (languages
the disciples already knew)?
Proponents of the language miracle and ecstatic
utterances interpretations ordinanly do not ask these questions. This is true
because the logic of their presuppositions precludes these questions. The logic
of the language miracle view leads one to believe that the "other tongues"
could not have been Aramaic or Greek (languages the speakers already knew). If
the "other tongues" could not have been Aramaic or Greek, then
questions will never arise about whether Aramaic and Greek could be called
"other tongues" and cause amazement and ridicule. The logic of the
ecstatic utterance view leads one to believe that the original "tongues"
were not languages. If this is true, then any questions regarding the speaking
of Aramaic and Greek (which are languages) becomes irrelevant.
The Overlooked Factor: The Place of Hebrew in Jewish Culture
While most scholars are well aware of the dominance of Aramaic and
Greek among first-century Judeans, few consider the function of Hebrew in Judean
culture and its impact on the interpretation of Acts 2. Aramaic and Greek
dominated as native languages of the Judeans; yet Hebrew was retained by the
Judean people for a specific purpose. Jewish scholar Mortecai M. Kaplan
describes the emerging role of the Hebrew language in Judean culture:
Despite the wishes of the Jewish zealots, Hebrew was
unable to hold its own against Aramaic which, prior to the Greek conquest, seems
to have become the official language of the entire western half of the Persian
empire At that time there began a unique procedure which has characterized
Judaism ever since, that of retaining Hebrew as the language of worship, of the
elementary school and the bet ha-midrash, while developing the foreign
vernacular into a Jewish dialect for use in the home and in the street. When the
competition of other languages was too strong to be withstood, Hebrew did not
succumb, but retired to the inner sanctuaries or Jewish life, where it continued
not as the esoteric language of a few pedants. but as the medium in which the
most vital interests of the people found expression .
According to Kaplan, Hebrew was retained as "the
language of worship," in contrast to the "foreign vernacular"
used "in the home and in the street." Hebrew had declined as the
native language of the Judeans but continued to serve as the religious language
of Judaism. Philip Birnbaum describes Judean feelings about Hebrew:
The Mishnah refers to the Hebrew language as leshon
ha-kodesh--the holy tongue--to distinguish it from the Aramaic vernacular or
other "secular tongues" spoken by the Jewish people. . Others have
affirmed that Hebrew is God's language in which he gave us the Torah. It was the
Hebrew language in which the prophets expressed their lofty ideas and our
fathers breathed forth their sufferings and joys .
Geoffrey Wigdoer's Encyclopedia of Judaism under the
Hebrew language entry reads: "A Semitic language (ivit) traditionally
described as 'the Holy Tongue' (leshon ha-kodesh)....The Holy Tongue was
the usual designation for Hebrew, and it was even seen as the language of the
angels (Hag. 16a)" (330-31).
Throughout their history, Judeans have differentiated
between Hebrew, the "Holy Tongue" (leshon ha-kodesh), and other
languages (including Aramaic and Greek). Acts 2 is a thoroughly Judean setting;
so we should attempt to view the meaning of the phrase "other tongues"
from a Judean perspective.
Recall that in the Old Testament the Hebrew language is
contrasted with the unintelligible languages of foreign invaders. The Hebrew
people are warned that if they are disobedient to the Lord, he will bring a
nation which speaks "another language" (Is. 28:11), "whose
language you do not know" (Jer. 5:15). This warning of judgment through a
nation which speaks "another language" is first expressed in the
cursings section of Deut. 28:45-50. Paul makes reference to this in 1Cor. 14:21
with the phrase "by other tongues [heteroglossais] and other lips."
What should be noted is that in each case the contrast is between the
unintelligible language of a foreign conqueror and Hebrew.
It is important to recognize that according to this
Judean understanding, the phrase "other tongues" may connote languages
"other than Hebrew." In this Judean understanding there is one Holy
Tongue, Hebrew, and all other languages are profane languages.
The Diglossia Concept
Chaim Rabin observes that in multilingual environments one or more
linguistic patterns are common:
The first is common bilingualism (or multilingualism)
caused by the personal circumstances of the individual: a man may pick up the
language of his neighbors, a merchant that of his suppliers or customers, in a
mixed marriage both parents and children may correctly use both languages, etc.
The second pattern is that of the lingua franca: people with different
home languages living within a certain area use for intercommunication one and
the same language, which may be one of the home-languages of their area or a
language from outside .
Although most scholars are aware of these two
linguistic patterns, the third, described as follows by Rabin, is not as well
The third pattern has in recent times come to be called
"diglossia"; in it the same community uses two different languages in
its inner-communinty activities, their use being regulated by social conventions.
In most cases, one language is spoken in ordinary everyday life by everybody,
and the other is employed in formal speech, on formal occasions, in writing, in
religious activities, and the like. We refer to the more formal language as the
upper language of the diglossia, to the less formal one as the lower. Diglossia
situations are extremely common. They exist in many European countries as
between local dialect and standard educated language. In a diglossia, too, not
everyone is able to handle the upper language. In most cases. it is imparted by
some process of formal education [l008].
The term "diglossia" was first used in
English by Charles Ferguson: "In its original use, the term applied to
cases where both the upper and lower language belong to the same historical
language, e.g., literary and colloquial Arabic" (Rabin: 1007). The concept
has since been extended by other linguists to situations where two different
languages make up the diglossia (Fishman: 29-30).
Where a diglossia exists, different languages are used
for very different purposes in the community. The upper (or H) language is
reserved for special formal occasions, and the lower (or L) language is used in
Ferguson (325-40) used nine categories to describe
diglossia situations. First, as to the function of the language in the
community: "One of the most important features of a diglossia is the
specialization of function for H and L. In one set of situations only H is
appropriate and in another only L" (328). Since both languages have very
specific functions, "The importance of using the right variety in the right
situation can hardly be overestimated. An outsider who learns to speak fluent,
accurate L and then uses it in a formal speech is an object of ridicule"
Second, there is a distinction in prestige between the
"higher" and "lower" languages:
In all defining languages the speakers regard H as
superior to L in a number of respects....Even where the feeling of the reality
and superiority of H is not so strong, there is usually a belief that H is
somehow more beautiful, more logical, better able to express important thoughts
and the like. And this belief is held by speakers whose command of H is quite
limited. To those Americans who would like to evaluate speech in terms or
effectiveness at communication it comes as a shock to discover that many
speakers of a language involved in diglossia characteristically prefer to hear a
political speech or an expository lecture or a recitation of poetry in H even
though it may be less intelligible to them than it would be in L. In some cases
the superiority of H is connected with religion [32O-32].
Ferguson noted that diglossias usually involve strong
loyalty to the H language. Proponents of the superiority of the H language use
the following kinds of arguments:
H must be adopted because it connects the community
with its glorious past or with the world community and because it is a unifying
factor as opposed to the divisive nature of the L dialects. In addition to these
two fundamentally sound arguments there are usually pleas based on the beliefs
of the community in the superiority of H that it is more beautiful, more
expressive, more logical, that it has divine sanction, or whatever their
specific beliefs may be [338-39].
First-century Judeans, who believed that Hebrew was the
"Holy Tongue," would have used these kinds of argument in support of
Hebrew as the 'Holy Tongue."
Third, there is a literary heritage connected to the H
language: "In every one of the defining languages there is a sizable body
of written literature in H which is held in high esteem by the speech community,
and contemporary literary production in H by members of the community is felt to
be a part of this otherwise existing literature" (330). The Torah written
in Hebrew has always been highly revered by the Judeans and their Jewish
Fourth, there is the method of acquiring particular
L is invariably Iearned by children in what may be
regarded as the "normal" way of learning one's mother tongue. H may be
heard by children from time to time, but the actual learning of H is chiefly
accomplished by means of formal education, whether this be traditional Qur'anic
schools, modern government schools, or private tutors. This method in
acquisition is very important. The speaker is at home in L to a degree he almost
never achieves in H .
This is precisely where the Diaspora Judean found
himself in regards to his familiarity with Hebrew. He was quite at home with his
mother tongue, Aramaic or Greek, and Hebrew was reserved primarily for the more
William A. Stewart says that it is normal for religions to have
particular languages for religious expression: "Classical Arabic, Hebrew,
Latin, and Sanskrit are the religious languages of Moslems. Jews, Roman
Catholics, and Hindus respectively" (545). The major religious diglossias
||other than Arabic
||other than Sanskrit
The best known religious diglossia is probably the
diglossia present in Roman Catholicism. The religious--and scholarly--language
of Catholicism for centuries was Latin. Latin served as the H language of the
diglossia, while German, French, etc., were the L languages. William Tyndale was
killed for violating the ecclesiastical diglossia present in England.
Charles W Carter, though he does not make explicit use
of the diglossia concept, nevertheless, in describing the Judean crowd of Acts
2, describes both the Jewish and the Muslim diglossias:
The objection that the "multitudes" of the
dispersion would not have come to the Feast of Pentecost had they not known they
would get much from a one-language observance can hardly be sustained. First, it
was expected, if not actually legally required, of every Israelite to attend
these feasts at Jerusalem and thus appear before the Lord, if such was within
his ability. Second, religious worship is a greater influence on men than
religious language, important as is the latter. Third, in like manner every
faithful Moslem is required once in his lifetime, if at all possible, to make
the Pilgrimage to Mecca (the Haj), and longs to do so....Certainly, a vast
percentage do not understand intelligibly the Arabic language, even though they
may have memorized sections of the Koran. And even a greater number have no
knowledge of the Arabic language used in the religious services at Mecca .
Besides maintaining that the Feast of Pentecost
involved "a one-language observance" (the liturgy in Hebrew). Carter
thus also refutes the argument that the Diaspora Judeans--who for the most part
did not know Hebrew--would not "get much from a one-lanauage observance."
He does so (1) by pointing out that Judeans were required to attend the feasts,
(2) by claiming that the validity of religious worship experiences does not
necessarily depend on the intelligibility of the language used, and (3) by
paralleling the Jewish pilgrimage to Jerusalem with the Muslim pilgrimage to
Without using the term, Carter is clearly referring to
one diglossia situation and using another diglossia situation to answer an
objection. Hebrew as the "Holy Tongue," the religious language, was
the language that the Diaspora Judeans didn't understand. Using the right
language (i.e., the "Holy Tongue," Hebrew) for the liturgy at the
feast was more important than intelligibility. Carter then refers to the Muslim
diglossia, where the religious language was Arabic. Observe the parallels in the
Judean and Muslim diglossias:
|2. H Language
||Hebrew (leshon ha-kodesh)
|3. L Language
||Languages other than Arabic
||Languages other than Hebrew
Arabic = Low
other languages = High
Hebrew = Low
other languages = High
A Judean Diglossia Present in the First Century
Other scholars besides Carter, while not using the term diglossia,
nevertheless have concluded that a Judean diglossia existed in the first century.
Gustaf Dalman, discussing the persistence of Hebrew among the Judeans, stated:
Sure as it is that Aramaic was the common language of
the Jews in the time of our Lord, it is also a fact that Hebrew did not entirely
drop out of the life of the Jewish people. As the "holy tongue" (leshon
ha-kodesh), "God's language" since the creation of the world, the
language of Adam, of Abraham, of Joseph, and of the Law, Hebrew was still held
to be the real language of Israel .
Dalman thus recognized that although Aramaic had
superseded Hebrew as the common (L) language of the Judeans, the people
continued to believe that Hebrew was the H language ("the real language of
Martin Hengel recognized that Hebrew was the H language,
with Aramaic and Greek as the L languages: "While Aramaic was the
vernacular of ordinary people, and Hebrew the sacred language of religious
worship and of scribal discussion, Greek had largely become established as the
linguistic medium for trade, commerce, and administration" (1989: 8).
Henri Daniel-Rops saw a parallel between the use of
Hebrew in Judean culture and the use of Latin in Roman Catholicism:
But after the return from Babylon the old national
language fell slowly into disuse, being ousted for everyday purposes [L language
function] by another dialect [Aramaic]. And since at the same time this was just
the time at which the groups of learned men of Ezra's day were setting down the
Scriptures in writing, Hebrew becomes "the language of holiness," leshon
ha-kodesh or leshon shakamim, "the language of the learned,"
exactly like Latin of our time. The Law was read in Hebrew in the synagogues;
prayers were said in Hebrew, both privately and in the Temple. The doctors of
the Law taught in Hebrew .
If a diglossia existed among first-century Judeans, we
may have a major clue about the interpretation of the phrase other tongues in
Acts 2:4. Among first-century Judeans the religious language, leshon ha-kodesh,
Hebrew, was the language that both Palestinian and Diaspora Judeans expected to
hear in the Temple liturgy during the feast of Pentecost.
Although some would suggest that the speaking in "other
tongues" occurred at a private home somewhere in Jerusalem, the available
evidence suggests that it occurred at or very near the Temple: (1) according to
Acts 2:1 the events of Acts 2 occurred during or while the feast was being
fulfilled; (2) where would a large crowd of "devout men" (2:5) be
while the feast was in progress?; (3) Peter said that it was 9:00a.m. (2:15),
which was one of two prime times of Temple prayer and worship (the other was
2:00 p.m.); (4) as Luke himself indicates, the early church met regularly at the
Temple ("And they returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were
continually in the Temple praising God"--Lk. 24:52-53 NASB); (5) within the
Acts 2 narrative Luke reiterates the practice of the early church: ("And
day by day continuing with one mind in the Temple"--2 :46 NASB); (6) the
streets ofJerusalem were very narrow (as personal travel or pictures will attest)
with little room for a crowd of thousands, whereas the location of the speaking
must have been large enough to accommodate not only the 120 disciples of Jesus,
but a crowd of thousands; (7) after Peter preached 3,000 were converted (2:41).
Not all of the crowd was converted; so the crowd was probably much larger than
3,000. The most likely place for thousands of "devout men" to be
gathered during the fulfillment of Pentecost would have been the Temple area.
Instead of leshon ha-kodesh, the disciples of
Jesus, inspired by the Holy Spirit, began speaking in "other tongues"
(i.e., languages other than Hebrew). The speakers spoke Aramaic and Greek,
languages they knew, languages that were simultaneously the native languages of
the crowd assembled in Acts 2.
The Holy Spirit Kept Giving Apophtheggesthai
It is seldom observed that the Greek text of Acts 2:4 does not
say the speakers were given "other tongues" to speak. Rather, it says
"They began to speak in other tongues as the Holy Spirit "was giving"
(eididou) "utterance" (apophtheggesthai) to them." Eididou
is the imperfect, signifying ongoing, continuing action in the past; the
infinitive of the verb in question is apophtheggesthai. It refers to the
kind of authoritative, weighty, important speech characteristic of a prophet or
similarly inspired person. As Marshall points out, "it indicates a solemn,
weighty, or oracular utterance" (357). The word occurs only three times in
the New Testament: Acts 2:4,14; 26:25. In Acts 2:14 Peter stands up and speaks
out to the crowd ("raised his voice and 'declared' [apophtheggzato]
to them"). Peter is not given a new language in 2:14; instead, his speech
is described as bold, authoritative, and inspired by the Spirit. In Acts 26:1-32
Paul gives his defense before Agrippa. Agrippa, while hearing Paul's defense,
says in v. 24: "Paul. you are out of vour mind! Your great learning is
driving you mad." Paul responds: "I am not out of my mind . . .but I 'utter'
[apophtheggomai] words of sober truth." The emphasis is on Paul's
manner of speaking.
Apophtheggomai refers, not to the content of the
speech, but to "the manner of speaking." In each instance, the person's
speech is bold, authoritative, and inspired. Acts 2:4 could be translated:
"They began to speak in other languages [than Hebrew] as the Spirit kept
giving bold, authoritative, inspired speech to them." This meaning of apophtheggomai
ties in well with Peter's answer to the charge of drunkenness.
First, Peter says it's too early for the speakers to be
drunk. Second, he cites the prophecy of Joel, which indicates a time would come
when the Spirit would be poured out on God's people irrespective of their age,
gender, or social class. Ordinary people would have extraordinary experiences of
the Spirit. Peter adds (v.18) an additional phrase (probably for emphasis) not
present in Joel: "and they shall prophesy." In other words, the Holy
Spirit would come upon ordinary people and they would speak out (i.e., prophesy)
with bold, authoritative, inspired speech. Some may object that by denying the
language miracle interpretation the miraculous is being denied in Acts 2. This
is not true because the prophesying by the 120 disciples of Jesus is inspired
Jesus had predicted that the coming of the Holy Spirit
would result in ordinary people (the disciples ofJesus) speaking out powerfully
(Lk 24:45-49; Acts l:4-8) under the influence of the Spirit. The bold,
authoritative speech by ordinary people (predicted by Jesus) begins in Acts 2
and continues throughout the book of Acts.
The Judean leaders in Jerusalem were amazed at the
boldness of the disciples: "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and
John and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed
and recognized them as companions of Jesus" (Acts 4:13 NRSV). The Judean
leaders commanded the disciples not to speak in the name of Jesus any more.
After further threats, the apostles were released and joined their companions.
The early church gathered and prayed: "And grant
to your servants to speak your word with boldness, while you stretch out your
hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy
servant Jesus" (Acts 4:29-30 NRSV). The result is a work of the Spirit
strikingly parallel to the events of Acts 2: "When they had prayed, the
place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were filled with
the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness" (v 31). Note the
sequence and elements involved in both Acts 2 and 4:
1. Disciples gather together (2:1)
1. Disciples gather together
2. Supernatural phenomena: "wind" and "fire"
2. Supernatural phenomena: "place was shaken"
3. All of the disciples filled with the Spirit
3. All of the disciples filled with the Spirit
4. as the Spirit was giving them utterance (apophthegges
4. and spoke the word of God with boldness (metaparresias)
Bold Witness in "Other Tongues"
When a Gentile interprets the phrase "other tongues" in
Acts 2:4, the phrase is usually interpreted to mean "languages other than
what they normally spoke." This interpretation, however; is contradicted by
the language situation of first century Judeans, where both the speakers of the
"other tongues" and the hearers of the "other tongues"
shared the same native languages (Aramaic and Greek). If we approach the phrase
from a Judean perspective, the phrase may be interpreted to mean "languages
other than Hebrew."
The crowd (the holy people of God/"devout men"
v 5) had gathered in Palestine (the holy land) in Jerusalem (the holy city), at
the Temple (the holiest place on earth), expecting trained priests (the holy men)
to be conducting the liturgy in Hebrew (leshon ha-kodesh) on a holy day.
Instead, the disciples of Jesus began to prophesy in "other tongues"
with a boldness and authority given by the Holy Spirit. Other than what tongue?
In this thoroughly Judean context, the place where a Judean diglossia would most
likely exist, a reasonable conclusion is "other than Hebrew" (the
Emil Schurer said of the use of Hebrew at this time:
"Even on the basis of the evidence available prior to the archaeological
finds of this century, a limited survival of Hebrew was admitted, but it was
confined to the sphere of worship in the Temple...the leshon ha-kodesh
was primarily the language used in the sanctuary"(10). M. H. Segal
expressed shock that someone would suggest that a language other than Hebrew
would be used for the Temple liturgy:
The view has also been expressed that the usual
language in the Temple was Aramaic, and that it was only in the last few years
of its existence that the Pharisees replaced Aramaic in the Temple by MH [Mishnaic
Hebrew]. This view is based chiefly on the report that on two occasions High
Priests heard in the Temple Bath Qol speaking Aramaic. But surely the
evidence of such an isolated legendary report cannot outweigh the evidence or
innumerable passages in MH literature which prove that the Temple ritual was
carried out in MH...it is incredible that in the Temple of all places, with all
its reverence for tradition, Hebrew would have been banished in favor of a new
and un-Jewish tongue. Hebrew has remained the exclusive language of the
Synagogue to this very day. Even if we had not the evidence of Rabbinic
tradition, we should conclude that such was also the case in the ancient Temple
For Judean people to call Hebrew leshon ha-kodesh
is to designate it as sacred. Bruce J. Malina defines the sacred as "that
which is set apart to or for some person. It includes persons, places, things,
and times that are symbolized or filled with some sort of set-apartness which we
and others recognize. The sacred is what is mine as opposed to what is yours or
Aramaic and Greek had replaced Hebrew as the native
languages for most first-century Judeans. Hebrew was retained, however as the
sacred or religious language, in contrast to which Aramaic, Greek, etc., were
the languages of everyday life.
The Jewish crowd expected to be hearing the priests
conducting the liturgy in leshon ha-kodesh, Hebrew, the Temple language,
the H language. They had this expectation in spite of the fact that leshon
ha-kodesh was unintelligible for most of them at that time. Nevertheless, it
was the cultural expectation of the entire crowd. They were not expecting to
hear ordinary people boldly prophesying in the L languages (Aramaic and Greek)
in this situation.
When the disciples began prophesying in the profane
"other tongues" (the native tongues of the crowd) with a boldness and
authority given by the Spirit (apophtheggesthai), some reacted in
amazement (2:6-12), while others, angered by the violation of the diglossia,
ridiculed the disciples as drunks (2:13). Drunkenness does not impart the
ability to speak unlearned languages; it decreases verbal ability and frequently
causes speech to become slurred. On the other hand, inebriated persons usually
lose their inhibitions. People in an inebriated state engage in behavior they
would not dream of doing while sober. Only an inebriated person would be so
uninhibited as to ignore the sacred/profane distinction inherent in the Jewish
diglossia. Peter answered the charge of drunkenness by citing the prophecy of
Joel: the time had come when ordinary people would receive the Spirit and
prophesy about Jesus with a boldness, authority, and inspiration given by the
same Spirit. Luke describes the commencement of the Spirit-empowered witness of
the early church--a witness that violated Judean expectations and norms
connected to the Judean diglossia.
The first-century Judean diglossia and its application
to Acts 2 may be seen in the following diagram:
Sometimes approaching a biblical
narrative is like being in a foreign land among strangers. Their actions, their
language, everything they do seems strange. In short, they are a total mystery.
This is analogous to the mystery of what "other tongues" meant in Acts
To the twentieth-century American, the narrative in
Acts 2 appears to be a description of a language miracle. From this perspective,
what else could "other tongues" mean? Others, aware of Hellenistic
settings where ecstatic utterance were routinely practiced, would guess that
other tongues refers to disciples being filled with joy, engaging in ecstatic
Scripture says that "with God all things are
possible" (Matt. 19:26). God could have produced a language miracle in Acts
2. He also could have produced so much joy in his disciples that they broke
forth in ecstatic praise. The question is not, "What is possible with God?"
The question is, "What do the Scriptures mean, or what happened when the
disciples spoke in 'other tongues'?"
Examination of the text alone cannot settle this
mystery. The text does not define what other tongues meant, nor does the text
explain the language situation of first-century Judeans. Without this definition
or explanation, several questions have to be answered in order to resolve the
mystery. What were the language capacities of the Jewish people at this time?
What would the phrase "other tongues" mean to persons living in the
first century? The answers to these questions provide the necessary background
to understand the context of the narrative in Acts 2.
All biblical scholars agree that biblical texts have
contexts. An enhanced understanding of the context aids in illuminating the
meaning of the text. When this text is carefully examined in light of the Judean
cultural context, a fascinating language differentiation emerges: leshon
ha-kodesh. This is the premise that one language is more holy, better suited
for religious expression, than all other languages. In the minds of Judeans and
many of their Jewish descendants, Hebrew, the "Holy Tongue," is set
apart from all other languages. What was the common, ordinary Ianguage of the
earliest Judeans, evolved into leshon ha-kodesh, the sacred language.
Most Americans have not experienced, nor ever will
experience, such an extreme differentiation of languages--a differentiation
described by linguists as a diglossia. An example of where Americans could have
had such an experience would have been attending a Roman Catholic Mass conducted
exclusively in Latin. Others could have had the experience in travels to foriegn
countries. It should not come as a surprise, at any rate, that most contemporary
readers, confronted with the phrase "other tongues," would interpret
it to mean "other than their ordinary languages." Most have never even
heard of the term diglossia. They have no idea that the Judeans differentiated
between leshon ha-kodesh, the "Holy Tongue," Hebrew, and all
To know what really happened in Acts 2, it is necessary
to ask what this mysterious term "other tongues," meant in that Judean
perspective. The answer to this question results in the surprising discovery of
a diglossia in which Hebrew was leshon ha-kodesh. Now there is a meaning
for "other tongues" that most would never have imagined. Clearly the
phrase takes on a new but simple meaning--"other than Hebrew."
This possibility is intriguing in its simplicity and
explanatory power. No longer is it necessary to invent meanings for the phrase
"other tongues." It is no longer necessary to posit an earlier
tradition behind the narrative in Acts 2. Nor is there need to be perplexed by
the widespread use of the Aramaic and Greek languages as the native tongues of
first-century Judeans (both Palestinian and Diaspora). This explanation provides
a third alternative, one that fits what is known given the language context of
the first century Judeans.
This explanation is equally and immediately applicable
today. Most do not believe that they will speak languages they have never
learned. They fear the loss of control involved in ecstatic utterances. This
third alternative clearly implies that when the Holy Spirit comes upon ordinary
people they become bold, effective witnesses for Jesus. The bold witnessing
began in Acts 2, "turned the world upside down," and can still ignite
hearts today. This work of the Spirit is desperately needed by the church today.
Some of the most fruitful discoveries in biblical
studies resulted from application of the social-science approach to exegesis.
This article is an example of the usefulness of such an approach. It appears
that the Judean diglossia explanation has been overlooked precisely because a
social-science approach was not used in the exegesis of the "other
tongues" phrase. The combined insights of linguists, historians,
theologians, and experts in Judaica provides this third alternative, which
merits further consideration. Perhaps this article will stimulate a
reinterpretation of the narrative in Acts 2 and reaffirm the importance of a
social-science approach to biblical exegesis.
Beare, Frank W., "Speaking with
Tongues: A Critical Survey of the New Testament Evidence." Journal of
Biblical Literature, 1964, 83: 229-46.
Bickerman, Elias J.,The Jews in the Greek Age, Cambridge ,MA: Harvard University
Birnbaum, Philip, A Book of Jewish Concepts, New York, NY: Hebrew Publishing
Bruce, F F, The Book of Acts, NICNT, Grand Rapids, MI, William B. Echemans
Publishing Company, 1988.
Carter, Charles W, "A Wesleyan View of the Spirit's Gift of Tongues in the
Book of Acts," Wesleyan Theological Journal, 1969, 4: 39-68.
Cohen, Shaye J. D., From the Maccabees to the Mishna, Library of Early
Christianity, ed. Wayne Meeks. Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1987.
Dalman, Gustaf, Jesus-Jeshua. New York, NY: Macmillan, 1929.
Daniel-Rops, Henri, Daily Life in the Time of Jesus. New York, NY: Hawthorn
Books, Inc., 1962.
Ferguson, Charles, "Diglossia," Word. 15: 325-40, 1959.
Fishman, Joshua A, "Bilingualism with and without Diglossia; Diglossia
without and with Bilingualism," Journal of Social Issues. 1969, 23: 29-38.
Furneaux, William,The Acts of the Apostles. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, 1912.
Gundry, 'Robert, "'Ecstatic utterance' (N.E.B.)?" Journal of
Theological Studies. 1966, 17: 299-307.
Haenchen, Ernst, The Acts of the Apostles. Philadelphia. PA: Westminster Press,
Hengel, Martin,The "Hellenization" of Judea in the First Century after
Christ, trans. John Bowden. London, UK: SCM Press, 1988. Jews, Greeks, and
Barbarians, trans. John Bowden. Philadelphia. PA: Fortress Press, 1980.
Henry, Carl F H., God, Revelation & Authority, vol. 6. Waco, TX: Word Books,
Horton, Stanley H., The Book of Acts. Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House,
Jeremias, Joachim, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. Philadelphia. PA: Fortress
Kaplan, Mortecai M., Judaism as a Civilization. New York, NY: Schocken Books,
Kistemaker, Simon J., Acts New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker
Book House, 1990.
Ludemann, Gerd, Early Christianity according to the Tradition in Acts.
Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1989.
MacArthur, John, Acts l-l2. Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1994.
Malina. Bruce J., The New Testament World: Insights from Cultural Anthropology.
Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1981.
Marshall, I. H., "The Signiacance of Pentecost." Scottish Journal of
Theology, 1977, 30: 347-69.
Neusnert Jacob, A History of the Jews in Babylonia. 1. The Parthian Period.
Studia Post-Biblica. Leiden, The Netherlands: E. J. Brill., 1965.
Polhill, John B., Acts. The New American Commentary, vol. 26. Nashville, TN:
Broadmen Press, 1992.
Rabin, Chaim, "Hebrew and Aramaic in the First Century," in The Jewish
People in the First Century. Compendia Rerum Iudaicarum ad Novum Testamentum,
ed. S. Safrai and M. Stern, vol. 2. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press, 1976.
Safrai, S., "The Temple," in The Jewish People in the First Century.
Compendia Rerum Iudiacarum ad Novum Testamentum, ed. S. Safrai and M. Stern,
vol.2. Philadelphia. PA: Fortress Press.1976. "The Temple and the Divine
Service," in The World History of the Jewish People: The Herodian Period,
ed. Michael Avi-yonah. Jerusalem, Israel: Masada Publishing Company, 1975.
Schurer, Emil, The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ, vol.
1, revised and edited by G. Vermes, F Millar, M. Black, and M. Goodman
(originally published in 1973). Edinburgh, UK: T &T Clark, 1987.
Segal, M. H., A Grammar of Mishnaic Hebrew. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, 1927.
Sevenster, J. N., Do You Know Greek? Leiden, The Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1968.
Stewart, William A., "A Sociolinguistic Typology for Describing National
Bilingualism," in Readings in the Sociology of Language, ed. Joshua A.
Fishman. New York, NY: Mouton Publishers, 1970.
Wigdoer, Geoffrey, ed., "Hebrew," in Encyclopedia ofJudaism, pp.
330-31, ed. Geoffrey Wigdoer. New York, NY: Macmillan, 1989.
Robert Zerhusen, M.Div., Th.M., has training in
systematic theology. His interests include the application of cultural
anthropology and linguistics to New Testament studies. Currently working on a
manuscript concerning tongues, Robert is the pastor of Chattsworth Lake
Community Church in Chattsworth, California.